Un Paso Detras – A Barcelona Tale

So I recently thought of an interesting little situation that occurred during my stay in Barcelona. I know I haven’t written anything on it yet, so I’ll likely remedy that in the near future. However this incident is one mildly worthy of note.

I went traveling with a fellow “auxiliar” from my (now former) teaching program in Spain. Our first stop was Barcelona, for which I arrived in the beginning throes of a particularly ill-timed illness (it actually began on my birthday, but that’s a gripe for another time). Our hostel was actually quite pleasant, though a decent distance from the city center. It was extremely well-staffed with an assortment of young adults from quite a few different countries, so communication was never an issue, and being travelers themselves, knew exactly how to help at almost any given moment. I realize this almost sounds like a shameless plug for this place, but as I can’t even recall the name, I say the equal parts pandering and total ambivalence to recall level themselves out. Continue reading

Whose Voice is it, Anyway?: A Question of Dubbing

During my time here in Spain, I’ve come to see many aspects of the Spanish culture, or, well, at the very least Galician culture and Spanish TV. However, there is something I’ve always had some issue with that is rife on TV here, so now is a good enough excuse to discuss it. Dubbing. Technically dub localization, as general dubbing occurs in nearly every film, but I digress.

For six months I’ve sat at the same dinner table and seen a fair bit of Spanish TV, be it sports, movies, news programmes, game shows; whatever has just been on, really. One thing that I’ve noticed is the sheer lack of subtitles. Every movie I have seen has been dubbed over, almost every programme dubs voices of foreign athletes, actors, politicians, and whatever/ whomever else. There is occassionally some manner of subtitling, but it seems to be inconsistent at best. Not inconsistent as in inaccurate, but like a programme may subtitle a footballer’s comments one day, and then dub them the next.  Very curious, indeed.

Continue reading

Give Me A Break, Spanish Advertising

A small impression on TV advertising here in Spain. As far as my experience has ever gone, commericals and forced adverts are all but universally abhorred across all mediums. On TV, online; perhaps excepting only the previews at a movie theatre.

In the US, a half-hour programme is usually only around 20 minutes after advertisements, and an hour-long programme is usually close to 40 minutes in length and 20 minutes of adverts. Spain seems to be about equal on this. With shows and films on TV in the US, scene changes are usually the transition point to an advert, logically enough. Each segment is also usually a sort of  bell-curve, starting slow, ramping up, then winding down to the 60-90 second commercial break, and so on, so forth. It’s annoying, but it makes some relative sense.

In Spain, it’s a slightly different system. You get to see more of any given programme or film at a time. The commerical breaks still exist, but they, too, are longer. About twice as long, at usually 5-7 minutes in length. The effect that this has is that any show that is not Spanish-made (which is many of them) are not edited for such time discrepancies. You’ll see the standard TV “arc” so to speak of rapid exposition, resuming of the action, and a tight summation or cliffhanger before a fade-to-black, scene change, or “coming up on ..!” With Spanish timing, these convenient cuts just stroll past like a polar bear on holiday in Greece, and the show goes on as if the break occurred. Then a few moments later, mid-scene, it will cut to a commerical or a station’s hip and flashy-looking titlecard saying “we’ll be back in ~7~ minutes!” This is about where the remote comes into play, only to change the channel onto another (in)conveniently timed commercial break.

As to the nature of the ads themselves, they’re usually just as innane, banal, and noisy as American counterparts, if not with a hair more sexuality and one or two instances of noticably questionable sexism (more than what’s normally there, of course). What interests me most is that advertisements will occassionally appear mid-show. The anchor of a sports programme, talk show, and even the Spanish equivalent of The Daily Show will be in their signature style of dress and deliver with their normal smarm and eloquence the benefits of their mandatorily pitched product. It’s weird to me, personally.

I also keep thinking I’ve seen this during a news programme, but I’m assured that the news is one programme they don’t run these adverts on. Luckily so, as it would seem to me like a very alarming potential conflict of interest, should one of the corporate sponsors-of-the-week got into some newsworthy trouble. I still don’t like it, personally, as it sort of seems like advertising creeping just a little too far into the programmes themselves. Then I think of professional sports broadcasts and remember it’s like that, anyways.

Really, though, it’s all effectively the same to the US, aside from the length and occassional intrusion upon the shows themselves, more than the American levels of intrusion, which is a thing ridiculous to even consider. Long story short: a necessary(-ish) evil for funding, it still annoys effectively everyone, it just lasts incrementally longer here in Spain. So good day, and enjoy Johnson & Johnson’s No-More-Tears Baby Shampoo.

Spooked Spanish Children – Internet Horror in the Least Likely of Places

So horror is kind of an important thing to me. I am obsessed with zombie films (a connoisseur of sorts, I would dare say), play tons of horror games (both of the board and electronic variety), read plenty of horror literature, and find a macabre delight in spooky things. I have a strange and delightful tale of an experience I had back in October with the kids I teach and their ideas on horror and Halloween.

I was asked by the English teacher I work with to make a mural for Halloween. I can draw more than a stick figure, and I love Halloween, so I said “sure.” After some rough ideas on small paper, I found an idea that stuck, and I began to draw upon the paper for the mural, some large, 4 foot by 3 foot sheet. I thought a clever idea would be to put a listed piece of paper by the mural asking the kids what creatures and ghouls or what ever else they would like to see in the finished picture. Originally I had the intention that they would draw on the mural themselves, but that proved to be too long of a process, and not every kid would have had the chance to add something, so I nipped that, and left it at the list. It began simply and to the point, “zombie,” “zombie boy,” “zombie cow,” “zombie raccoon” (I sensed a trend, here, and had to put a stop to it when someone wrote “zombie vampire”), but one kid scratched something out on the page, turned, and asked me if I know who “Slenderman” was.
Continue reading

A Splash of Local Colour: Drinking in Galicia

In Spain, drinking has proven to be a far more protracted affair than in the United States. Bars close far later than in the U.S. equivalents, and people start drinking much earlier, but in a strange way, lighter, too. An anecdote to drop us right in and explain:

With the same dining companion as before (someone, I must add, finds my slip-ups in Spanish and slight cultural differences/confusions sources of unerring hilarity; nice girl), we went to a local bar, ”Zodiac,” I do believe it’s called, before meeting up with a friend of hers at yet another bar. This was around eight or nine at night one weekend, and about a month into my stay here in Spain. Beer and wine are by far the most common drinks to be had on a day-to-day basis (of the alcoholic sort, of course; water, juice, or what ever else is readily available). So consequently for the vast majority of the time, excepting the very sporadic bit of liquor after meals, I only had beer and wine; I wanted a mixed drink.

Continue reading

The Taste of a Thousand Octopi, or, The Culinary Monopolies of Galicia: Pass Go, Collect 200 Cephalopods

Spain, the country of my current residence, is rather pointedly different than that of the United States. Consequently, various aspects of life and the average day to day are, well, different. From my short time in Lugo, Spain, there have been some rather interesting discrepancies in culinary techniques and interests that I find interesting to place the most brief of spotlights upon.

Primarily, I feel a pervasive need to stay on the good side of the people of Galicia, as they all seem to be masters of the knife. Not strictly Culinary Institute of America-approved techniques, either. No special knife-grip, fingers curled in and firmly placed upon the intended cutting material, cutting away from yourself for the sake of control and security. No, no, not here. Often, it is knife in hand with the intended cutting base being their own fingers or the flesh of the vegetable, fruit, or meat itself. It’s impressive, if not nerve-racking to my personal sensibilities and culinary teachings/inclinations. Freaks me out. Yet its simplicity and functionality is impressive: they are cutting, peeling, coring, cubing, slicing, and dicing all with one tool, when any number of American families will have any number of devices for each of these acts. Think of the countless products in countless cooking magazines, all paling in comparison to Galician utilization of one stout knife. It’d be more inspiring if the thought of doing it didn’t scare the hell out of me. Continue reading

Drifting on the Winds of Orbezai

6/11/13: Made edits for grammar, spelling, and continuity.

The first night in Spain was truly a wonder. Upon minutes of my arrival in Lugo, Eva (The woman whose family is graciously housing me) and her husband Antonio brought me to a sort of neighbourhood festival. The purpose currently escapes me. After being awake for 26-plus hours, and through three airports over 15 hours has made for some of the subtleties of the evening to be lost.

I was definitely nervous about the whole endeavour, as I didn’t know what to expect, and there were to be many, many people attending with whom I, even now, can barely converse with. It seems much of Antonio’s family live closely within this region, so they were already there upon our arrival, in addition to hundreds more neighbours from the surrounding area. The way the whole event was set up was to house the hungry masses under massive tents; they were almost too large to call them tents, but they were a sort of large, rectangular sections of tarpaulin material supported by metal framing. A tent by any other name, but multiple buses would have been pleased with the accommodation. Rows after rows of long folding tables sat under these tents, covered in paper tablecloths, seemingly miles of waxy paper, for how far the tables went. Adorning these tables were legions of plates and napkins, battalions of bottles of local wine, and eager reinforcements of free beer, all as far as the eye could see. Continue reading